Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Angela Keaton on Ending War

I was in Los Angeles on the 18th-23rd attending a fantastic writing-focused film production workshop called the Taliesin Nexus. I'll probably do a blog about that later, because there's a pretty funny story involved... However, while I was in Los Angeles, I also took the time to see my friend (and former neighbor) Angela Keaton of www.antiwar.com and do an interview with her on camera.

Truth be told, I wanted to do a full interview anyway, but I'm actually working on a big piece on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and while I had the opportunity to get a serious anti-war voice for that I wanted to take it.

My article and interview are available at The Daily Caller, along with the video - which you should definitely watch - below:

Angela also posted the video at her website.

My Klout is Unpossible!

Ok, so if you've never heard of "Klout" before, you're probably a totally sane human being.

Klout is a website that looks into your social media presence by linking to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc., and comparing your influence to other people who use Klout. It then assigns a score between 1-100 indicating how influential you are among your network.

My score is currently 55 59.

Not bad, I think... Especially since I've never been very good at actively promoting myself or seeking out Twitter or Facebook followers. I just go about my way tweeting, blogging (i.e. now), as if anyone actually cares what I think about anything. And don't worry, I don't religiously check the site or anything, they sent me an email today and it made me curious.

Klout is interesting because it also gives you a breakdown of your influence in other ways, such as providing you a list of people to whom you are an influence, as well as listing those who influence you. This - I believe - is determined by who is responding to and/or commenting on your posts, who's re-tweeting your tweets, and of course, whose posts you are responding to and re-posting elsewhere.

So imagine my surprise when I looked at Klout today and saw this:

No really.... Penn Jillette is among those who I most influence. What the... What!?? Cool!

Also, not to be outdone, I'm also very glad that Klout claims I influence Matt Welch (Editor in Chief of Reason Magazine), though in both cases I feel like I'm being lied to. However... It's a kind lie, and I'll take the compliment.

Sidenote: Matt Lewis, Jeff Winkler & Joe Kildea are all also awesome people who I definitely respect, but as I can hear Mr. Lewis recording his podcast interviews through our shared wall in the Daily Caller office I'm not sure it counts.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who's the 'dictator' again?

In an interview last week with Politico ("...a liberal publication based in suburban Virginia"), Debbie Wasserman Schultz - Chair of the Democratic National Committee - said that Republicans were acting like "dictators".

"This is not leadership. This is almost like dictatorship. I know they want to force the outcome that … their extremists would like to impose. But they are getting ready to spark panic and chaos, and they seem to be OK with that. And it’s just really disappointing, and potentially devastating."
Then, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) made an identical comment also at Politico, just today:
“We have negotiated with terrorists,” an angry Doyle said, according to sources in the room. “This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.”
...and Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden agreed:
"Biden, driven by his Democratic allies’ misgivings about the debt-limit deal, responded: “They have acted like terrorists,” according to several sources in the room.

Biden’s office declined to comment about what the vice president said inside the closed-door session.

Earlier in the day, Biden told Senate Democrats that Republican leaders have “guns to their heads” in trying to negotiate deals."
So much for that "new tone", huh?

Look. If Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mike Doyle and Joe Biden (of all people!) want to talk dictatorship, let's look at the Obama administration and the Senate, shall we?

The only part of government that has actually passed any sort of a workable (albeit still almost pointless) plan at this point is the House of Representatives.

The house is made up of 433 people from all over the US, elected throughout different rather small regions. It's as close to a direct democracy as the United States Federal Government can get, since it's a hell of a lot more localized and thus individual votes actually matter a little bit more.

They were elected, they offered a plan (which the White House has yet to do, or rather, has yet to do in any serious form since the single "budget" the President offered was a joke that even his own party wouldn't support), and they voted on the plan. This plan passed, and included not only a raise to the debt ceiling - which is what Obama has spent the last 3-4 weeks demanding needs to happen - but also a few moderate spending cuts... And let's be honest, they're not even "cuts", they're just reductions in planned increases in spending.

According to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, these are apparently the actions of "dictators".

Contrast that with the Democratic controlled Senate which hasn't passed any thing. The Senate is comprised of 100 members who have succeeded at convincing just a scant plurality of their whole state to vote for them, so even though they each have arguably more power than their House of Representatives counter-parts, they are slightly less accountable to the public. And that's still way more democratic than the election of a US President, like President Obama.

Speaking of Mr. Obama... Let's talk that, shall we?

Barack Obama got elected with 52.9% of the votes (through the electoral college system, which we'll ignore for now)... The voter turnout in 2008 was, according to the FEC (http://www.infoplease.com/​ipa/A0781453.html) - 56.8%.

That means that, as a rough sketch at least, only about 30% of the American public actually supported President Obama enough to pull the proverbial lever in his favor. And again, considering how the electoral college system works, the actual number is far lower than that.

Yet Obama, throughout this debt "debate", has actively suggested he might decide (and yes, it is a priority-based choice Obama has control over) to not send out Social Security checks by an arbitrary deadline unless the people he disagrees with do what he is demanding. And many members of his party are advocating that the President unilaterally overrule Congress if they don't agree to a "deal" and simply raise the debt limit himself via some half-assed interpretation of the 14th Amendment that will ultimately get challenged in the Supreme Court, but which by then would be too late.

So it's the 240+ people who have been elected at regional levels, and who have offered and voted on a plan of some kind vs. one guy, put in power by a fraction of the public, who is advocating simply usurping authority no president has ever had and exercising it at his own whim (oh right, and one who actively presides over the bombing of thousands of people worldwide).

Who's being dictatorial again?

And by the way, where is the media outrage about how extreme the tone and rhetoric is on the left? I'm not seeing it. Hmm.